Dick De Jong
March 31, 2011
From the opening title sequences with the gnarled Francis Bacon paintings, you know that Last Tango in Paris will be a contorted cinematic dance that your senses will not soon forget.
And indeed, Director/Screenwriter Bernardo Bertolucci intertwines his actors, Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, into an existential psycho-sexual relationship with no names.
Many might find unbelievable the pairing of the mumbling aging Brando and the bubbling budding Schneider, but Brando reveals enough pain to explain - not excuse - his misogyny and infuses enough charm into his nihilistic character to attract.
For her part, Schneider's tryst with Brando is an erotic exploration into the heart of darkness as well as a dangerous rebellion against the safe filmic fairy tale courtship by boyfriend Jean- Pierre Leaud.
This NC-17 rated movie broke ground back in 1972 for its depiction of sex and the human body. Almost forty years later, the full frontal nudity has lost its novelty, but the story can still wallop you in the solar plexus.
On an artistic level, the camera work of Vittorio Storaro, (Oscar winner for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor) is sublimely masterful. And this clean Blu-ray transfer of the original "explicit edition" allows for a fuller appreciation of the angles, lighting and texture.
For the cineastes, Last Tango in Paris was a watershed film by Bertolucci. For further study, I would recommend The Passenger, another existential ride by fellow Italian, Michelangelo Antonioni, that also features Schneider, (who died last month at age 58), this time with Jack Nicholson.
Also, I think the subplot in Last Tango with Jean-Pierre Leaud plays out like a Francois Truffaut film, perhaps because he discovered Leaud in 400 Blows. I suggest that you watch Day for Night for Truffaut's take on a film within a film.
The only extra on the Blu-ray is the trailer, which is interesting for how it handled the film's subject matter.
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment & MGM Home Entertainment & United Artists
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Cast: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Maria Michi, Giovanna Galletti
Length: 129 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
DTS-HD MA Mono
English SDH, French